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Cisco Partner Summit 2017 debuts Webex conversational assistant

WWT's collaboration practice director Joe Berger talks about the future opportunities he sees with the new Webex conversational assistant.

Posted by TechTarget on November 2, 2017:

Channel execs at Cisco Partner Summit 2017 said they see potential in Cisco Webex Assistant (formally known as Spark Assistant), a new conversational assistant that uses machine learning technology from MindMeld.

Cisco has expanded its Webex collaboration product line with a conversational assistant that aims to make meetings easier, the company said. Cisco partners described the new conversational assistant, Webex Assistant, as fitting into their voice and video conferencing offerings.

The company unveiled Webex Assistant at Cisco Partner Summit 2017, which wraps up Nov. 2. Webex Assistant is based on machine learning technology from MindMeld Inc., an artificial intelligence company Cisco acquired earlier this year. MindMeld focuses on applying AI to chat and voice assistants. Webex Assistant, slated for release early next year, will let customers use voice commands to launch meetings via Webex or join a Webex personal meeting room.

However, Rowan Trollope, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Applications Group, said Webex Assistant's ultimate objective is not conference room control, but the ability to provide "a virtual team member" that can help people get work done. In future iterations, the technology will be able to track action items for follow-up, he noted.

Joe Berger, collaboration practice director at World Wide Technology Inc., said Webex Assistant's AI capabilities provide an opportunity for his company to evolve the integrations it builds to customize the Webex platform. He sees a future in which Webex Assistant can interact with line-of-business applications such as Salesforce or ServiceNow -- the AI tool might be used to pull up sales pipeline data in a meeting, for example.

Jim de Poortere, CEO of Viju Inc., said Webex Assistant "will definitely blend into our overall solution." Viju provides visual communication and collaboration offerings and views Webex Assistant as a way to expand the capabilities of meeting rooms.

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